Montecito family reunited with missing cat after home destroyed in deadly mudslides

KABC logo
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Montecito family reunited with missing cat after mudslides
A Montecito family whose home was destroyed in the mudslides had a tearful reunion with their rescued cat.

MONTECITO, Calif. (KABC) -- A Montecito family whose home was completely obliterated in the mudslides that left at least 20 people dead had a tearful reunion with their beloved cat after rescuers found the feline amid the rubble.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services posted a video on Facebook of the couple hugging and stroking their cat, Koshka, as they tearfully thanked the emergency officials who saved her.

"Thank you so much. We needed something like this to happen for our family. The house is..." Lindsey Thompson said as her voice dissolved into sobs.

"Our house has been completely destroyed," her husband, Woody said. "But we're safe."

Woody said they never lost faith that Koshka was alive, even though they lost everything else.

"We knew that she was alive and we knew that she was smart and she would find a safe spot to be and she did," he said.

According to Santa Barbara County Animal Services, the Thompsons were not certain that they would survive the powerful mudslide that took their home. The couple left goodbye messages for each other in case one of them did not make it.

They were airlifted out of the inaccessible rubble of their residence on Oak Grove Road by rescue teams.

The couple reached out to the animal services department for help finding Koshka as soon as they were safe, but employees of the department could not safely access their property.

"We consulted with a nearby fire team who was unable to see Koshka but could see her muddy paw prints which gave us hope," the department wrote in a Facebook post.

When it became safe, Santa Barbara County Animal Services teams then took up the search and had been checking the Thompsons' property daily since Jan. 9 for any sign of Koshka.

Monday, their search finally came to an end. "Today, our Officer Pennon and his partner Lauren from the ASPCA were able to get close enough to the property and felt it was safe to access a window," the department said on Facebook. "They found Koshka with mud caked fur, and she was thankful to see her rescuers."

"They called her the 'pawprint kitty' and she lived, and I just can't thank you enough. We needed this. Thank you. You're our heroes," Lindsey said.